From Flirting to Hardcore Politics With Kainan
Xinhua’s take on Jan. 25
Wang Kainan, is no average Chinese. Selling colorful, shimmering gold and silver jewelry laden with gems and stones off a wooden cart in Cairo’s biggest shopping mall, City Stars, Kainan was prepared to show me ‘peautiful’ jewelry when I approached his cart. As he was helping me look at the jewelry, he said to his partner, “ta hen mei! Shen tai hao!” Little did Kainan know that I understood he was saying that “[I’m] pretty and [have] a nice body”. “Zhen de ma? Xie xie ni! (Really? Thank you)” I said laughingly. “O…,” was Kainan’s response, as he was utterly startled and embarrassed to the point of blushing! As soon as he comprehended the situation, I changed the topic and asked him about the price of an item. Then I tried picking up a conversation and asked him where he lives in Cairo to suspend the awkwardness. “I live in Ma’adi,” Kainan said. “My life in Ma’adi is a lot better than my life back in China.” The fact that Kainan made a negative remark, even if mild, about China to a stranger like me is surprising given that “Chi fan le ma?” which means, “Have you eaten” is the Chinese people’s way of greeting each other. For them, politics and religion are out of bounds, so they always choose to talk about a topic that would cause no schisms; food! I chose to attribute Kainan’s courage to his candidacy and ruthlessness rather than to his attempts at seeking redemption for commenting on my body in Chinese. Kainan is one among 60,000- 100,000 Chinese people living in Egypt, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper. The Chinese population in Egypt is fairly diverse ranging from street vendors, door-to-door salesmen, chefs, engineers, construction workers and journalists at China’s renowned news agency, Xinhua. “What we saw during the times of the revolution in Egypt was not similar to what our relatives back in China...